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Southwest Baptist University and a Springfield-based insurance software provider have partnered to reduce the tuition rate for certain technical classes at the Bolivar school.
The educational partnership between SBU and Next Level Solutions is designed to help address the shortage of technical workers in the Ozarks, according to a news release. NLS has agreed to pay half the tuition for southwest Missouri students who register for computer science courses in the university’s new dual-credit program, SBU Academy.
“The SBU Academy offers a face-to-face classroom experience with tenured, doctorly qualified faculty on Mondays and online support the rest of the week,” said Tim DeClue, SBU academic admissions liaison, in the release. “Because of the partnership, SBU can offer the computing course at $60 per credit hour – a rate that makes the course within reach of many high school students. SBU and NLS realized it would take an innovative, university/industry approach to realistically address the problem.”
DeClue told Springfield Business Journal SBU is charging $120 per credit hour for its other academy courses, and since the computer science course is a four-hour class, the partnership with NLS lowers the cost to $240 from $480. There’s no specified length for the partnership, DeClue said, adding he expects it will be a long-term arrangement. The financial investment for NLS depends on the number of students who enroll in the course, according to officials.
“It is a very good value for $120, but it is incredible at $60 an hour,” he said via email. “It’s very unlikely a high school student can get a computer science course at a college with an (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology)-accredited computer science program for less than $60 an hour.”
DeClue said spring semester classes at SBU begin Jan. 25 with the first in-person class for the academy on Jan. 30. While two students are fully registered for the computer science course, he said six more are in the registration pipeline for the academy.
“We expect a few more before the course starts, but I expect a more significant number in the succeeding semesters as the opportunity becomes more well known,” he said via email.
SBU Academy was designed for high-achieving high school students attending school on a four-day schedule or for homeschooled students, according to the release. The program offers an opportunity to enroll in face-to-face college-level courses, such as computer science, education and psychology, taught by a university professor.
DeClue will teach the computer science course, which counts towards SBU’s ABET-accredited computer science or cybersecurity degree programs, according to the release.
“We’ve realized tremendous company and employee growth in the four years we’ve been in business,” said Haley Armstrong, senior recruiter at Next Level Solutions, in the release. “I’m always looking to fill technology roles, so this partnership makes perfect sense. We can help grow the developers and analysts of tomorrow by offering scholarship support now. These students could be working for us in just a few years.”
Armstrong said as part of the partnership Next Level Solutions plans to provide mentorships and promotional materials to the students, as well as speak in the classes to promote careers in technical fields, including job opportunities at its company. However, students are not required to work at NLS upon course completion, according to officials.
Next Level Solutions is the back-to-back No. 1 company in SBJ’s Dynamic Dozen awards. The company, which debuted at No. 1 on the list that recognizes fast growth, was back at the top in 2022 after reporting 2021 revenue of $32.6 million, a 394% increase during the three-year period tracked in the awards criteria.
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